NamPower launches into the wholesale fibre sector

15 March 2019 | Jason McGee-Abe

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Namibia’s national electricity provider, NamPower, has launched into the wholesale fibre-optic space.

NamPower has launched The Grid Online, a fibre-optic network which will leverage the state-owned power utility’s existing infrastructure to offer wholesale services to third parties.

Kauna Ndilula, chairman of NamPower’s board of directors, justified the company’s investment in fibre-optics as a necessity because “it’s the future of digital communication,” adding: “The new product offer will provide Namibia with the additional national bandwidth it so badly needed.”

The news should help to enhance competition in a country, which is essentially dominated by the state-owned mobile and fixed line incumbents Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) and Telecom Namibia (TN).

Since it launched its fibre network in 2014, TN has dominated the fibre-optic segment owing to its position as the principal wireline infrastructure owner. Since then, privately-owned Paratus Telecom (PT) has also launched fibre services in the country.

Although mobile broadband adoption will continue to outpace fibre, the wholesale network will also garner interest from the state-owned mobile incumbents as they seek to meet the growing capacity demands on their networks.

By removing the associated network deployment time and costs, NamPower’s wholesale network has the potential to inject more dynamism into the fibre market as third-party ISPs will be able to enter the market with more competitively priced ‘last-mile’ fibre services,” stated a report by Fitch Solutions Macro Research.

“In addition to potential new entrants, we believe that Nampower’s wholesale offering will also garner interest from existing established operators. PT may be encouraged to alter its Greenfield fibre deployment strategy in favour of the wholesale network. Meanwhile, in the mobile segment, data monetisation is playing an increasingly important role in both TN and MTC’s strategies to navigate the low growth market. As the uptake of advanced services puts pressure on their networks, The Grid Online will appeal as a cost-effective data traffic management option for the operators.”

Stanley Simataa, the Namibian Minister of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), hailed the initiative but called on telcos to not forget about also investing in improving telecommunications infrastructure and broadband access in rural areas as well.